National push to get students learning in a foreign language

Eiffel Tower (PR)

3 May 2018

  • National centre set up to promote learning all kinds of subjects in a foreign language
  • Year 10s at one school make a grade-and-a-half more progress after learning their usual school subjects in French

A national centre dedicated to the teaching of school subjects in a foreign language has been launched.

The scheme, led by Aston University and Bordesley Green Girls’ School with input from Birmingham City Council, forms part of efforts to increase uptake of students deciding to continue studying modern languages, and to raise achievement levels across all subjects.

Learning Through Languages UK will connect the existing community of teachers and lecturers that deliver lessons in a foreign language, known as CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning).

The ultimate aim is to develop a ‘golden thread’ of language learning from primary school through to university.

Dr Emmanuelle Labeau, Co-Director of the Centre for Language Research (CLaRA) at Aston University and one of the lead academics, said: “Across the country there are pockets of activity in CLIL, but these remain fragmented and lack sustainability. Evidence of CLIL’s application in other countries has shown how a national centre can spread the word and use of CLIL and consequently the improvement in both language acquisition and achievement. We believe that language is a skill that can be accessed by all, and given the right approach, children from any context and at any level can achieve success.”

Bordesley Green Girls’ School has seen a rise in all key stage three subjects thanks to the adoption of CLIL.

89% of students at the school study languages at GCSE and 81% of those girls said that they enjoy the subject.

Judith Woodfield Head Teacher said: “Year 10 students who have studied geography, business and science in French in years 7 and 8 are making over a grade-and-a-half more progress in humanities subjects, a grade higher in French and two-thirds of a grade higher in other Ebacc subjects.

“We believe that our international curriculum is developing the problem solving skills needed to access the more challenging GCSEs. Nationally modern foreign languages are not being taken up by all students as they are perceived as being harder. Our students enter the school well below the national average, but their tremendous motivation towards languages and learning subjects through languages is ensuring that that they have the best possible chance of reaching higher levels of attainment.”

The centre was launched at the school on Friday April 27th, with representatives from the Department for Education, teachers’ associations and distinguished scholars due to attend.


Notes to the editor

About Aston University

Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston is a long established university led by its three main beneficiaries – students, business and the professions, and our region and society. Aston University is located in Birmingham and at the heart of a vibrant city and the campus houses all the university’s academic, social and accommodation facilities for our students.  Professor Alec Cameron is the Vice Chancellor & Chief Executive.

Aston has long been at the forefront of using CLIL in higher education, and teaching in the target language represents one of its unique selling points. Student recruitment to modern languages is above the national average. Results in the National Student Survey show almost 100% student satisfaction across all languages, and students especially mention teaching in the target language as key to their success. Moreover, employability prospects for Aston language graduates are regularly amongst the top 5 nationally.  

Aston has been a leading university for graduate employment success for over 25 years and our students do extremely well in securing top jobs and careers. Our strong relationships with industry partners mean we understand the needs of employers, which is why we are also ranked in the top 20 for graduate employability

Bordesley Green Girls’ School and Sixth Form is an 11-18 all-girls school in inner city Birmingham. It is a Teaching School and National Support School and is rated outstanding by OFSTED

For media inquiries in relation to this release, call Ben Kennedy, Press & PR Officer, on 0121 204 4592 or email Alternatively, email

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